Posted in TV Stuff


Had an idea for a blog project, 1st episodes of TV shows. Dunno if it should be a regular feature here, or maybe it’s own blog.

Just a random thought for the evening.

Posted in TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D part 4


Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons –  Elizabeth Henstridge

Daisy ‘Quake’ Johnson   –  Chloe Bennett

Alfonso ‘Mack’ MacKenzie – Henry Simmons

Jeffrey ‘Patriot’ Mace – Jason O’Mara

Dr Holden Radcliffe – John Hannah

Aida/Ophelia/Madam Hydra/Agnes – Mallory Jenson

Recurring Cast:

Elena ‘Yo-Yo’ Rodrigues – Natalia Cordova

Grant Ward – Brett Dalton

Glen Talbot – Adrian Pasdar

Robbie ‘Ghost Rider’ Reyes – Gabriel Luna

Overview: After a mixed season 3, season 4 turned into something a bit different with an almost triptych season, with mini-arcs or pods that tied together at the end. It’s ambitious, but with the returning cast very at home with their characters and decent performances from newcomers and consistent writing, it led to a season that pushed the quality up a level or two and that led to a more enjoyable season than I originally expected.

Initial Status Quo: Six months after the Hive incident and the fall of Hydra and it’s all changed. The Sokovia accords have been ratified after the events of Captain America: Civil War and S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the verge of being re-legitimised, Coulson (having run an illegal spy agency for a couple of years) is no longer director, Daisy Johnson is now a fugitive called Quake and the anti-Inhuman hate group Watchdogs has gone global. Now the season splits into 3 fairly distinct, but naturally connected pods.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : Ghost Rider

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : LMD

Agents of HYDRA

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : Ghost Rider


Episodes 1-8

These episodes center around the threat posed by ‘ghosts’, the mystical tome known as the Darkhold and the spirit of vengeance known as the Ghost Rider and all of those things converge with the re-organised S.H.I.E.L.D

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. : LMD


Episodes 9-15

With Ghost Rider arc over, there are new threats. The Watchdogs have gone global, answering to a superior with ties to a hard-line anti-Inhuman senator and underneath that is Holden Radcliffe and his creation Aida. Bit by bit all the other threats fall away until we are left with Radcliffe replacing members of S.H.I.E.L.D. with identical Life Model Decoys (or LMDs). Those replaced include May, Mack, Mace, Coulson and Fitz. There’s robot doubles, the continued race for the Darkhold and obsessions galore, until Radcliffe’s ‘Framework’ is complete and Quake and Simmons have to break into this virtual work to locate and save the replaced agents and then we get to the final part of this season.

Agents of HYDRA


Episodes 16-22

Ending the season is, Daisy Johnson and Jemma Simmons are in an exact replica of the world, but history has changed. Aida has fixed one thing for all captive agents, to keep them placated in their new lives, which has snowballed into a new world. May is first, he regret is the regret of killing an Inhuman child, this had led to an incident where the child killed hundreds of other children and bit by bit, a fascist Hydra run state has come into being and May is one of their harshest enforcers of law. Mace is a true Inhuman, able to be the hero and man he has always wanted, but now viewed as a terrorist. Coulson didn’t really want to join S.H.I.E.L.D. and is now a history teacher, indoctrinating the young in Hydra’s worldview and informing on those who don’t. Mack didn’t lose his daughter Hope and is a devoted and loving father to an adorable 10 year old. Fitz is the most changed, raised not by his kind and caring mother, but his abusive authoritarian father and now is the Doctor, an amoral scientist and number 2 man at Hydra, gleefully experimenting on Inhumans. Fitz is in love with the head of Hydra, Ophelia or Madame Hydra, the Framework avatar of Aida. Jemma and Daisy inhabit their own avatars and find that Daisy is Skye, Agent of Hydra and living with boyfriend Grant Ward and Jemma climbs out of a mass grave at S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy. The team get back together through battles, crises and not all of them make it out in one piece. But get out they do, but Aida has used the Darkhold to create her own body outside of the Framework, full of Inhuman powers and the full range of human emotions. She’s full of the wonder of life and passion, until things go badly and then she is all heartbreak and rage when everyone becomes who they used to be and remember who they loved, including Fitz, the man she loves.

It all ends in fire, death and revenge and includes a brief return appearance by Robbie ‘Ghost Rider’ Reyes. The team win the day, but with their base, alliances and reputation in tatters expect to be arrested and so wait to be captured.

Final Twist: Phil Coulson wakes up in some kind of cell, he gets ready for work, looking out of his window at the stars, because wherever he is, is in space.

Where are they? What’s going on? Well you’re going to have to wait for season 5.

Overall: It‘s a solid season, still over reliant on the Inhuman thing to move things forward and paint over the cracks in the story. The introduction of more mystical elements as well as the whole LMD thing adds a new flavour to the show and deliver a fun and well laid out season that brought me back to a show I was less than enthusiastic about watching again.

Stand Out Episodes:

The Good Samaritan: The first arc becomes a little clearer with the origin of the all new Ghost Rider.

Laws of Infernal Dynamics: Ghost Rider, the Patriot, Aida and the rest of the team go all out to defeat Eli Morrow, before he can destroy LA.

The Patriot: The Watchdog threat comes into focus here and we learn the truth about Jeffrey Mace, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and we get more changes to the team’s dynamics.

Hot Potato Soup: Several Koenigs, androids, the Framework and a race to the Darkhold as the LMD of May makes her move.

Self Control: Four people on the base are LMDs and the FitzSimmons team is on the defensive, until they realise that one of the four, is one of them. Paranoia and horror until we end up in the Framework, a world run by Hydra.

Identity and Change: A world were Grant Ward is the hero and Fitz is the monster who shoots an unarmed innocent to prove a point and the question changes from can we save them, to should we?

Next Time: “Space? Figures, we haven’t done that yet.”

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

For the Geek in Me, 2017 Was Awesome: TV

This year was in many respects rough.

I know that no one is giving me points for neatness here, but the news is drab or it’s genuinely frightening. The world seems a darker place and for me that leaves a bit of escapism to find my joy. When it came to TV, it was an embarrassment of riches.

As I have been doing this year, I found my 5, but this time with a difference, for every new thing, have added a less-than-new thing that has been a positive this year:

Midnight Texas:

The hero of this story is a medium who fleeces people, but he is an actual medium and he’s on the run and finds himself in a very small town in the midst of Texas and learns that it’s the one place that he fits in. This is the story of the town on the border of Earth and what we call hell and it’s a border that’s losing integrity. Living in that town are a fallen angel, his demonic boyfriend, a pawnbroker with a secret, a preacher who is like a werewolf, but so much cooler than that, a witch, a vampire, and Olivia, who is scarier than any of them. The door to hell is starting to open and it’s about to get a lot worse.

There are succubi, neo-Nazis, a chain-smoking dead grandmother, a serial killer, another renegade angel, a talking cat and a demon. How was I not going to love this show? The show was adapted from books written by the same writer as True Blood, but this doesn’t have that show’s obsession with the sex life of its protagonist. One of the few shows that it doesn’t like such a chore to wait a week to watch, which is becoming something of a rarity.

But I also enjoyed: Killjoys

One of the surprise hits for me of the last year or so, this year’s third season hit the ground running and didn’t stop. The war between the RAC and the Hullen spread across the whole season and in between great character work showcased great action that Star Trek would have been proud to have.

Speaking of which

Star Trek Discovery:


I liked 2 of the 3 J J Abrams era Star Trek movies. I did, but let’s be honest for a quick second, Star Trek is and always should be a TV property. The people at CBS are launching a streaming service and one of its first offerings is the return of Star Trek to its television roots. Set in the few years before the original 5-year mission, this is the story of a woman called Michael Burnham who was instrumental in the start of the war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. The star of this show is not the captain (because we get two of them), nor is the main thrust of the show about the ship (we again get two of them) but it is about Michael, who is thrown into a situation that she was never prepared for. The plot is political in nature, with the Klingons all vying for control of the many noble houses and Starfleet are scrambling to take any advantage in a war that they don’t know that they can win. The captains aren’t square-jawed heroes and the choices made aren’t heroic at times, but this story is interesting and it stands alongside Deep Space 9 as a series I would recommend for not as Star Trek fans, but would like to give something a try.

Something else that was enjoyed (however not by me) Star Trek Voyager:

I am not going to tell you that it’s my favourite series (because it isn’t) or that it’s the most consistently good (because it isn’t) or that I’ve really enjoyed re-watching it (I haven’t) this gets to this list, because of my son. In an attempt to avoid watching such televisual delights as Pokémon and Paw Patrol, I put on the pilot of Deep Space Nine on, then the season 4 opener. He enjoyed them, I threw the dice and put the pilot of Voyager on. He LOVED it, loved it and wanted more. He’s watched several episodes and is now at the start of the 4th season, with the introduction of Jeri Ryan’s 7of9. I am glad he is enjoying Star Trek, maybe 7 is the target audience because he’s been fascinated and asking questions and it’s been a lovely thing I have been able to share with him, re-watching Voyager is a price to pay, but not too high a price.

The Defenders:


When Marvel announced their Netflix series, I was skeptical. After the lukewarm success of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the announcement that the first of the proposed series was Daredevil, I think I wasn’t alone there. But Daredevil was a hit, then came Jessica Jones which was well written and had outstanding performances, Luke Cage which fleshed out and modernized a great character while accepting the previous look. Even the lamented Iron Fist was enjoyable even with a far from likeably written Danny Rand, so by the time The Defenders came along, I was convinced enough to give it a go. I liked it, there was a lot of threads and characters pulled from the previous stories and did a decent enough job of tying it all together and I got to see Power Man and Iron Fist on screen together and left me wanting a little bit more.

I also have enjoyed Arrow:

DC won’t do a live-action Batman show, he’s A-List, but DC had another character that is essentially ‘what if Batman was Robin Hood?’ Oliver ‘the Green Arrow’ Queen. This series was a Batman Begins take on Ollie, building him from the ground up, introducing more DCU elements as it came along. The MIGHTY Rosie and I have been re-watching and it is even more enjoyable on Blu-Ray, where you can watch 3 or 4 at a time and Arrow’s success led to Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. I have a lot of good telly coming in 2018 too since we are at the point where this CW DC Universe starts to expand, starting with the Flash.

Night Shift:

Every now and again, the MIGHTY Rosie pulls a little gem out of nowhere. This was one of those. Night Shift is the story of a memorial hospital in San Antonio in Texas. This hospital’s night shift is staffed with military vets and adrenaline junkies. The story begins by centering on Doctor TC Callahan, a former Ranger suffering PTSD, his ex-girlfriend Jordan and his best friend Topher. Rounding out the team are a couple of doctors, some nurses and some new residents and this series hooked me with its fast-paced action, complex characterization and medical drama that often took me by surprise. There were only four seasons, so less than 40 episodes in total and each one is worth watching, we found this on Netflix and was an excellent pallette-cleanse from the many police procedurals and sci-fi programs that we’ve enjoyed recently.

I have also enjoyed, Grey’s Anatomy:

I found Chicago Hope boring, didn’t particularly take to ER and the less said about the British hospital procedurals Casualty and Holby City the better. So I have avoided Grey’s Anatomy quite effectively for the best part of a decade and was put onto it once more by the MIGHTY Rosie and got hooked.  This is the story of a group put into a surgical program at a prestigious hospital. They are all broken in one respect or another, suffering their own issue, their poor judgment and yet keep trying. There’s soapy crap, but also some touching scenes, comedy and more than a little whimsy. I’m 5 series in now, I do intend to catch up and it’s nice to get out of your own little niche and find something a little bit different.

Finally we get to Rick and Morty:

I am an avid fan of podcasts, most of them are American comic related ones, but there have been a couple of more local quality shows, one of them is Stacey’s Pop Culture Parlour. The Parlour is a series by the hilarious Stacey Taylor ( @StaceysParlour ) and she talks ‘at length’ on a number of pop culture topics, the reason that she is mentioned is that it’s from her I first learned the words Rick and Morty,, this was mentioned a good number of times and eventually I found it on Netflix and checked it out. It’s primarily a Back to the Future parody/homage (‘Rick and Morty/Doc and Marty) it’s a whole lot darker than that. Rick Sanchez is genius/super-scientist villain/alcoholic, who has reconnected with his estranged daughter Beth, her husband Jerry and their kids Summer and the perpetually anxious Morty. Morty keeps getting pulled into the bizarre misadventures of his grandfather and his portal gun shenanigans. It’s dark, it’s bleak and there’s very rarely a happy ending, but it’s also smart, hilarious and always fun. I currently have a Rick Keyring and am patiently waiting for news of series 4, the reason? Season 3 brought us “Pickle Rick!”

Can’t wait to see what we get next.

I also enjoyed Bojack Horseman:

 Everyone loves Bojack Horseman, but nobody likes Bojack Horseman.  In a world of people and animal people, which is both relevant to the story and not, he’s a former sit-com star with a harassed agent/ex-girlfriend, unemployed houseguest, annoying affable friend and a ghost writer pushing him to open up about a past that he is doing his best to get away from. There are misadventures, commentary on modern celebrity culture and a number of funny lines. None of that is why I am so fond of this series. The reason I enjoy it, is that it’s not a happy show. The most cheerful character is Todd, a unemployed misfit, struggling with his identity as an asexual man. But every character has that melancholy tinge of unhappiness, or confusion about them. It also highlights the self destructive impulses of depression and addiction in a way I have never seen on TV, let alone an animated series. There’s an episode in the 4th season where you hear the internal monologue of Bojack and it’s horrifyingly familiar. It’s not a story with happy endings, nor a likeable lead, but it is compelling and I am hoping a 5th season arrives.

This has been a trying year, but the TV has been above average.

Next Time: No comics, no films, no TV, just life.

Posted in TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. part 3


Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons –  Elizabeth Henstridge

Daisy Johnson   –  Chloe Bennett

Alfonso ‘Mack’ MacKenzie – Henry Simmons

Lance Hunter – Nick Blood

Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Morse – Adrianne Palicki

Recurring Cast:

Rosalind Price – Constance Zimmer

Hive/Grant Ward – Brett Dalton

Lincoln Campbell – Luke Mitchell

Gideon Malick – Powers Boothe

Dr Andrew Garner – Blair Underwood

Overview: First shown on 10 January 2016, this season pushed the series further from the connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and was eager to move on and be very much it’s own thing. Now the inhuman subplot of the 1st and 2nd seasons are very much the main part of this series as it is ongoin.

Initial Status Quo: Several months after the battle of Afterlife and the disappearance of Dr Gemma Simmons and things aren’t going too smoothly. Terrigen has gotten into the food chain, through food, fish oil capsules and the like and there artheandom people all over the world going through terrigenesis and emerging as new Inhumans, with no understanding of what has happened or how to transition back to a more normal life. The public is scared and a new agency has been formed to deal with this new outbreak. The Alien Threat Containment Unit (known mostly as ACTU) is chasing down these new inhumans, treating them as hostile aliens. S.H.I.E.L.D. are losing ground and the ones they miss are vanishing without a trace. So it’s a race to get to each one. But these two factions are not alone in this quest. Also Leopold Fitz finds a way to use the monolith to open a portal to rescue Gemma Simmons.

First Twist: We learn very early on that the ATCU aren’t killing them, but believe S.H.I.E.L.D. is, turns out another Inhuman called Lash is killing these new-Inhumans. Coulson starts dealing with and then falls in love with the ATCU’s head Rosalind Price, learning that behind the ATCU is Hydra. Whilst this is going on, Grant Ward is restarting Hydra, being pursued by Lance Hunter and May. Hunter and May get close, but only succeed in sending Ward towards the last of the Hydra leaders Gideon Malick, the same man behind the ATCU. Malick orders Ward to kill Rosalind Price sending Coulson on a revenge fueled attack.

Second Twist: In confrontation with Hydra, Fitz, Coulson and Ward end up on the world they rescued Gemma from, they find that there’s something else there. An ancient inhuman who is trying to return to Earth, wearing the dead body of Ward. This inhuman, Hive allies himself with Malick and begins their attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. costing them the services of Hunter and Morse as well as funding the anti-inhuman hate group Watchdogs.

Third Twist: Hive casts Malick aside and begins to brainwash inhumans including Daisy in his scheme to convert all humans to inhumans or subservient Alpha Primitives. The season ends on this story and with horrific consequences for Daisy.

Epilogue: We then shoot 6 months into the future and we learn that Daisy or Quake is on the run and Coulson and Mack are hunting her at thee behest of S.H.I.E.L.D’s new director.

Standout Episodes:

Purpose in the Machine: We find out where May got to and how far Fitz will go for Simmons.

4772 Hours: The story of Simmons’ time of the Kree world of Maveth told in snapshots over several months.

Maveth: Ward and Coulson battle on an alien world, while the Secret Warriors battle Hydra.

Singularity: Plotlines continue as Fitz/Simmons finally confront their feelings and become the couple so many fans ‘shipped.

In Closing: Series 3 was a departure from before in that it barely connected to the movies and tried to be it’s own thing. This was both positive and negative. The positive was that it could stand on it’s own and try new things. Sadly the negative was the like the comics it tried to make inhumans a thing. Once you take the recognisable inhumans out of the picture there’s nothing particularly interesting about them. There a bargain basement version of mutants and that’s what they are used as here. Once you’re past that, the series is as consistently entertaining and comic-booky as ever. Once again am looking forward to the next season.

Posted in Comics n Stuff, TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. part 2: Season 2

Main Cast:

Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons –  Elizabeth Henstridge

‘Skye’   –  Chloe Bennett

Alfonso ‘Mack’ MacKenzie – Henry Simmons

Lance Hunter – Nick Blood

Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Morse – Adrianne Palicki

Recurring Cast:

Glenn Talbot – Adrian Pasdar

Calvin Zabo – Kyle MacLaughlin

Grant Ward – Brett Dalton

Antoine ‘Trip’ Triplett – B.J. Britt

Robert Gonzales – Edward James Olmos

Gordon – Jamie Harris

Raina – Ruth Negga

Overview: First shown on 24 October 2014, season 2 opened capitalised on the strong finish of season 1 and pushed the story forward with an uneven, but highly entertaining 22 episodes. Rather than a huge global organisation, now S.H.I.E.L.D. is the small scrappy underdog against all sides, the US government, Hydra and other groups. Secrets, tension and uncertain loyalties abound.

Initial Status Quo: Several months after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a newer organisation arises, led by Director Coulson, this small scrappy group is a shadow of it’s former self and bit by bit are rebuilding to take the fight to Hydra, who despite the popular view are still very much a threat. Coulson is having moments of compulsive carvings similar to what happened to John Garrett after receiving the GHC formula in the last season. Skye has changed supervising officers to Melinda May and has become a capable specialist. Simmons is undercover at Hydra, Fitz is struggling to recover after the brain damage he suffered, whilst working with new recruit Alfonso MacKenzie/Mack. The team is also joined by Lance Hunter, a friend to other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and whilst sceptical of Coulson, trusts him enough to join. As well as Hydra, we have Dr Cal ‘Mr Hyde’ Zabo, Skye’s father who along with Grant Ward who escapes from S.H.I.E.L.D. pushes the plot forward as the secret of the alien writing, Skye’s origins and the strange artifact from the first episodes collide.

The Twist(s) First we find out that Skye is actually an inhuman and halfway through the season she goes through terrigenesis and emerges with vibrational powers. It’s then discovered that there are more inhumans out there, in hiding and terrified of the fearful human race. The second one comes when we learn that Bobbi and Mack are spies for another version of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are convinced that Coulson is the problem with the group and needs to be dealt with. Add into that several different revelations, changing allegiances and a few WTF moments, we get another fast paced finale which leads to more questions, more possibilities and more enjoyment for me.

Stand out episodes:

Love in the Time of Hydra: Bobbi and Mack play their hand and Grant Ward starts to help Agent 33 find closure over the damage done to her by Hydra.

Melinda: Where were learn how the ‘Cavalry’ became the Cavalry and why she spent 5 or 6 years in administration, set against the current Inhumans plot.

SOS: The seperate threads become one solid story and we get several cliff-hanger endings that leave you wanting a little more.

In Closing

Not suffering the finding their feet problems with the last season and having a little less to do with the Marvel Cinematics, allowed this season to breath a little. The cast are more comfortable in their roles and each are given more to do than last time. The expanded cast is a welcome breath of fresh air, with new recruits Mack, Bobbi and Hunter added some much needed flavour to the team. The antagonists are also more interesting and nuanced, from the more enlightened Ward, to his partner/girlfriend Agent 33 to the old school Nazi Daniel Whitehall. We get a look at the Inhumans and that continues Marvels attempts to make Inhumans interesting and relevant, but here it sort of works. (But seriously Marvel, stop trying to make Inhumans a thing, it’s still not working, but we all accept you tried your best.) We get more Asgardians, a Kree, a return of Deathlok and even some villains (we get Mr Hyde, Angar the Screamer and Crusher ‘The Absorbing Man’ Creel) and over all this was a much better season overall and I am glad I got it into my head to start watching these again.

Next Time: Inhumans, robot arms, alien worlds and Secret Warriors.


Posted in Comics n Stuff, TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Part 1: Season 1

First airing 27 September 2013 on the US network ABC, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the first attempt to put the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the small screen with a spin off and 5 netflix series, it can be considered something of a successful attempt.


Main Cast:

Agent Phil Coulson –  Clark Gregg

Agent Melinda May  –  Ming Na Wen

Agent Grant Ward   –  Brett Dalton

Agent Leopold Fitz    – Ian De Caestecker

Agent Gemma Simmons  –  Elizabeth Henstridge

‘Skye’   –  Chloe Bennett

Recurring characters

Raina –  Ruth Negga

Victoria Hand   –  Saffron Burrows

John Garret – Bill Paxton

Ian Quinn  – David Conrad

Mike Peterson – J August Richards

Agent Antoine ‘Trip’ Triplett – B J Britt

Agent Maria Hill – Colbie Smulders

Edison Po -Cullen Douglas

Overview: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a gamble, a weekly prime time series, set in the Marvel Universe, but without any of the recognisable characters that could be used in future films, or where there was rights issues. Straight away that takes the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Namor and a dozen other characters right off the table, add to that the ridiculous weekly schedule and a TV budget, it would be understandable if this was a brief failure. Right at the start, we are shown that the world has changed since the ‘incident’ when the Chitauri invaded a small part of Manhatten, the Avengers formed and the fantastic elements wherein were exposed to a terrified world.

Initial Status Quo: Our P.O.V. character is Skye, who lands on S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s radar after videoing a superhuman saving a woman from a fire. Quickly recruited for the response team is Grant Ward who is a very James Bond-esque agent. He is interviewed by Maria Hill to gauge his suitability to join a team led my an experienced agent named Coulson. Ward points out that he’s a level 6, so he knows Coulson was killed. Coulson walks in and announces that Ward is now a 7. He then recruits Melinda May from administration to act as pilot and takes Ward and May to the ‘Bus’ which is a converted Jet designated 616. Ward is met by newly field-rated scientist Fitz and Simmons, or Fitzsimmons for short. Investigating the superhuman, they encounter Skye, who helps out and is offered a consultant’s position on the Bus. For the first bunch of episodes, it’s very much like that, we get the team investigating weird cases, unexplained events and battle an organisation called Centipede who along with the ‘Clairvoyant’ are trying to develop super soldiers. In between we have the search for the truth of Skye’s past, the facts behind Coulson’s return and his time in Tahiti and all the time trying to train Skye as an agent. The concepts are fleshed out and the writing is decent enough and there is the sense of it all going somewhere as the Clairvoyant starts manipulating events. The synergy thing of it, is that during the season, Marvel released Thor: The Dark World and an episode fits in around that and then Captain America: Winter Solider happened.

The twist: Winter Soldier had the 3rd act twist that from the beginning, Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D and had been working in the background to make the world more dangerous, so to enable their takeover. The series then stops being what it was and becomes something else. Ward is revealed to be Hydra and thus becomes part of the antagonists for the rest of the season and S.H.I.E.L.D is now considered the same as Hydra, so the team are now outlaws. Now on the run, with minimal resources and betrayed at all sides, this rag tag team becomes not a team within S.H.I.E.L.D but the remainder of the organisation. It ends the season, showing that not all of the threats are dealt with and not all of the mysteries are solved. There are also guest stars, minor twists and turns and ultimately the series ends on a high with a final scene that leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

In closing: I liked this series better on the second watch, not having to wait week by week for each new episode and after a wobbly first half dozen episodes it found it’s footing early on and was consistently enjoyable. It’s not high art or award winning drama and to be honest it’s not really trying to do that, it’s an entertaining show set in the spaces around Marvel’s movies, but more and more are separate from them. The main cast do a great job with Ming Na Wen and Clark Gregg playing wonderfully off one another and the younger cast aren’t as annoying as they could have been. Over all this is a TV show that is worth giving a try for anyone who has a passing interest in the marvel movies and the comics they came from, it’s not the comics, nor the movies, but it’s not bad because of them.

Next Time: Rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D., rival organisations and terrigenesis.



Posted in Comics n Stuff, TV Stuff

Champions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Part 0: 


Quality is no real indicator of how much I will enjoy something, nor to be honest is popularity. Many are the show that despite being critically acclaimed or award winning that have simply passed me by. I am no fan of Breaking Bad and found the Walking Dead  to be unwatchable, but I often enjoy stuff that no one else can tolerate. I freely admit though the show disappeared up it’s own arse at the end, I watched Sanctuary right up until the end.  I am willing to give most action or geeky shows a try. There’s little rhyme or reason for the ones I stick with and due to my many many problems, I always feel that when I like a show, I must qualify my appreciation. I should stop doing that. It’s my opinion after all and the only condition you need give for liking something is that you like it.

So one of the shows I stick with that no one else likes is the 2013 series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Now I say no one else, but I do know someone, just the one and that’s about it. But the truth is, I like the show. I did in the past and am re-watching it now and enjoying it still. So I want to write about it a bit, look at it season by season and try to work out why I like it so and why anyone else should. I doubt I will change anyone’s mind, but what the hell.

So we start as ever with the beginning.

S.H.I.E.L.D. was introduced in Marvel Comics as Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division starting in Strange Tales 135 back in 1965. It was then and for most of it’s run led by Nicholas J Fury.


Halfway between Man from U.N.C.L.E. and 007 it was a spy agency with all kinds of hi-tech gear who battled with A.I.M. and Hydra (AIM being mad scientists and Hydra being the group formed by ex-Nazis such as Baron Von Strucker. It was a way to use some of the interesting WWII characters Marvel had including the Howling Commandos and S.H.I.E.L.D. was used often to springboard new stories and introduce new characters such as Mockingbird, Jasper Sitwell, Quasar, Maria Hill, Sharon Carter, Victoria Hand and others, who started life of as agents. As time went on, S.H.I.E.L.D. changed becoming more of a traditional espionage agency just with sci-fi trappings and connections to several super heroes. Captain America for example is a connected to the agency and often works alongside them. Refashioned into the Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate back in 1991 it carried on as it did before, just with a post cold war mentality. After the Secret Invasion story in the mid-noughties, S.H.I.E.L.D. was done away with in place of H.A.M.M.E.R. which had no real words behind those letters, but S.H.I.E.L.D. returned as it always does. Given it’s unique place in the Marvel Universe and it’s ability to connect to many different heroes for several different reasons, it made sense for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have it’s own version of SH.I.E.L.D. in this case the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division, who showed up in Iron Man and Incredible Hulk back in 2008. In Hulk, they simply acted as intelligence providers and arms suppliers, but in Iron Man, we got to see the agents in action, investigating the escape of Tony Stark from the 10 rings camp. Here’s where we met Philip Coulson. Seen as an affable middle management type, he was the everyman in a strange new world, dealing with it as many would, like a job. He returned in Iron Man 2 and led the investigation into Mjolnir in the movie Thor soon after. He showed up in a couple of one-shot episodes that were on the DVD/Blu-Ray releases of these films and then had his role expanded for Avengers in 2012.

By this point, S.H.I.E.L.D. was as much of a character in the movies as anyone else and despite Samuel L Jackson owning the role of the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, it’s face was Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. His dramatic final scene in Avengers was a lovely denouement to how the films portayed the agents. A nice little finale

Then they announced a series.


Posted in TV Stuff

5 TV Series that we only got one Season of

It’s very hard to say what will be successful in regards to TV series. For every Firefly that is cut short, we get 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1, I like both, but it does raise the question of how many series have we missed out on, because of a truncated run, or a completed but failed 1st season. Being something of a DVD Boxset fan, have been thinking about series that maybe got overlooked.

Here’s 5 of them, decided to ignore the obvious route of Firefly. We all know that ended too soon, but we did get a cool movie out of it.

1: Bloodties

2007’s Bloodties was technically 2 seasons, but I got them as a job lot. A supernatural procedural, it was about a PI called Vicki,  (Christina Cox) who had to leave the police and her partner Mike (Dylan Neal) for medical reasons, she’s going blind. After getting a missing persons case from local barmaid Corina (Gina Holden) she comes across vampire Henry Fitzroy (son of Henry VIII) and the two battle a demon. From there, we get more and more supernatural stuff and an intense love triangle between Vicki, Mike and Henry. It had action, character stuff, a great expanded cast (including the best deadpan medical examiner on TV) and a will they won’t they romance that I actually cared about.

Spider-Man (MTV)

This 2003 gem was released after the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film and was completely CGI animated, it had a sterling voice cast including Neil Patrick Harris as Peter Parker, Lisa Loeb as Mary Jane, a pre-Sharknado Ian Ziering as Harry Osborn and Anelle Brooks as original character Indira Daimonji. Playing more with Peter’s on campus life mixed with villains soap-opera complications, this was more like the comics that the movie, whilst still using the movie’s story as a jumping off point. It ended with a cliff-hanger and then replaced by the superior Spectacular Spider-Man series, which was then replaced by the disney-fied Ultimate Spider-Man, so was condemned to an unfair obsolescence.

Friends with Better Lives

To avoid this just being cartoons and vampire shows, I remembered this charming little show from 2011. Friends with better lives if about a group of 6 friends, all in different phases or states of relationships. Will (James Van Der Beek) is recently divorced, Kate (Zoe Lister Jones) is very single, Bobby (Kevin Connelly) and Andi (Majendra Delfino) are married with a child and Jules and Lowell (Brooklyn Decker and Rick Donald) are just now engaged. Playing with the differences between their lives gives the comedy a relatable feel to most people, we’ve all been one of those situations or another. The performances and dialogue elevates it from other similar shows and it shows how James Van Der Beek was wasted doing shit like Dawson’s creek when this and other comedy roles show how funny he can be.

This is a show I appreciated only because it was championed by the MIGHTY Rosie, so I want to say thanks to her for getting me to stick with it.

Wolverine and the X-Men

Back in 2008 after the relative success of X-Men Evolution, Marvel tried it again, mixing the movie versions and the recent comics into a Wolverine-centric X-Men series. A good voice cast, some solid writing and a dual timeline narrative, with Wolverine running the X-Men team in 2008 and Professor X at the end of the world in 2028. Professor X communicates with the past to prevent the horrible future that he is caught up in, giving this a very Terminator vibe. Add in the usual villains and a FBI like Mutant Response Department. This series very much had it’s own identity, whilst still accessible to the characters no matter where you had seen them before, or even if you had.  The season ended with the Sentinel based armageddon being averted, but something more along the lines of Age of Apocalypse happening instead, but since the series ended and Marvel concentrated on non X-Men properties to maximise their own movies and tv projects. We’ve been left hanging since. Although it is one big story, so at least we got some kind of climax.


Kind of saved the best for last and this is another re-watch suggested by the MIGHTY Rosie.

Another 2007 alumni, this was another vampire based procedural, but this one had a difference. Mick St John (Alex O’Loughlin) is a PI trying to live his life. The odd thing about him is he’s a vampire. There’s 300 or so of them in LA and he’s no villain or killer, he has boundaries. Vampires like their secrecy, having suffered the torch and pitchforks of the past, so when an internet news site starts reporting on a vampire-slaying, Mick looks into it, finding Beth Turner (Sophie Myles) who is trying to make the news-site a proper news outlet. They are immediately drawn to each other and there’s good reason.

Less supernatural in nature, this version of vampires are just a bit different, no coffins and gothic shit here, they a stronger and faster and have fangs and all that, but they don’t explode in sunlight and crosses don’t do much. Mick is affable and charming and as different from other vampires, like his blood dealer Guillermo and best friend Josaf Kostan (a hilarious Jason Dohring) as any people can be. Well paced and interesting, this series was and remains an enjoyable bit of tv fluff that had something of a cliff-hanger ending.


Posted in TV Stuff

Kamen Rider Ramblings: Agito


Kamen Rider Agito was the second of the Heisei era of Kamen Rider, a tokusatu (sci-fi/special effects show) from Japan. There were many commonalities between it and the first Heisei series Kamen Rider Kuuga, including an affable lead, motorcycles, non-human opponents and specialised police divisions as well as horrific murders and explosive battles


Agito is the story of Shoichi Tsuhgami, who is found on a beach and is amnesiac, he is taken in my college professor Yoshihiko Misugi, also living there are Misugi’s son Taiichi and his niece Mana Kazaya, who recently lost her father to an as yet unsolved murder Shouichi is friendly and eager to help and takes over the cooking, cleaning and gardening for the Misugi family Agito is also the story of Ryou Ashihara, a young swimming hopeful, trying to recover after a horrific motorcycle accident, Ryou is cynical and self involved and has little thought for anyone but himself. A third protagonist is Matoko Hikawa, a police officer who after saving lives on a boat during a severe storm is re-assigned to the G3 unit, a police division set up after the events of Kamen Rider Kuuga, to battle the unidentified life forms, should they ever reappear. This armour is very much modelled after Kuuga, with the compound eyes and concentration of armour on the chest and shoulders. These three characters share the hero’s role as a new threat of ‘Unknowns’ arises.

SPOILERS: (For a 14 year old show)


Shouichi spends over 40 of the 51 episodes with no idea who he is, so spends most of the time not really doing very much in the way of character development. He is affable and optimistic and similar to Yusuke Godai in Kuuga takes his transformation into the super human Agito very much in his stride. Ryou Ashihara is the obnoxious bad boy of the show, prickly and argumentative, but is nonetheless noble and caring. Both these young men battle the monsters for little to no motivation beyond helping the person being attacked. Matoko Hikawa is driven by duty and need to prove himself worthy for a job he feels he isn’t really suited for. Honest, committed and at times clumsy, he is a perfect foil for the flaky and artistic Shouichi and vice versa.

Secondary Characters

Shouichi’s supporting cast is the aforementioned family, the stern and sincere, yet sometimes goofy Professor Misugi, the bratty 10 year old Taiichi together with 17 year old Mana, who over time develops psychic powers. Hikawa works on the G3 team along with the hapless doof Omuro and the petulant genius Ozama, who really has a talent for upsetting anyone she ever talks to. These three find themselves often in conflict with Toro Hojou, an unpleasant and ambitious officer, all false smiles and sharp tongue. There’s also Hojou’s partner Konno a middle ages detective with an obsessive fondness for ramen noodles. There’s also several of the passengers of the Ataksuki.


The main story revolves around a ferry called the Ataksuki, which on a routine trip, gets caught up in a battle between two opposing forces, one light and one dark. The lighter brother, sensing his defeat is imminent sacrifices himself, dividing his power into millions of pieces, which hall to Earth and enter millions of people all over the world. His brother, who claims credit for creating people (yup, the villain here called Overlord is apparently God) is appalled by this and sees this power in mankind to be an abomination and sends his angels to kill anyone with this superhuman potential, because he can’t love these altered humans. These angels (or Lords) are animal based creatures who kill anyone with this potential as well as anyone related by blood. Some of these Agito seeds are active within people (Shouichi, Ashihara and a surgeon called Kino) which tells them of these attacks and guides them to defend the advancement of humanity. Like Kuuga this is very formulaic, we have plot moving forward, some character scenes and battles with the Unknowns. But this differs from Kuuga in three very specific ways.

1: The police and the primary lead don’t work together, almost at all.

2: There are 3 riders through most of the series and during six episodes, there are 4.

3: The pacing is punchier and flows much better.


There are three Agito riders and a non-Agito rider.


From left to right we have G3/G3-X is a robot battle suit utilising advanced weapons, support and build in AI to out think and out shoot the unknowns. Mostly worn by Hikawa, this suit kills a good number of the monsters.

Ryou Ashihara becomes  Kamen Rider Gills, a more organic and animal-like with spikes and tendrils used as defensive weapons, he also had a great “Henshin” sequence.

Then there’s Agito, with his weapons and alternate forms, including the brute force Burning mode and the final Shining form.

At the end there is Another Agito, a surgeon called Kino, suffering from his past, another survivor from the Ataksuki, heroic to a point, but often controlled by his darker impulses and motives.

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The unknowns (or Lords) have a very half man/half animal look to them and murder in a variety of disturbing ways.

The Good

Agito is better paced and more tightly plotted than it’s predecessor, more stuff happens organically and the many threads and associated characters are woven together better. Here we get to see several points of view, including the villain’s. With three riders, plus police, we get a great cast of characters leading to an ensemble show which really works. Shouicih is a fun character who’s openness and ebullient nature is nothing to do with his anmesia as when the gaps of his life are filled in, we learn he is exactly as he always has been. While similar to Yusuke Godai from Kuuga, he is a more sympathetic character. The battles are better choreographed and the unknowns are more of a serious and escalating threat with their own understandable motivations. A slightly smaller supporting cast gives each character their own moments and there are less dropped plot-lines than before.

The Bad

Some plot-lines are dropped and how the series starts doesn’t jibe with how it ends with little reason behind the change. Some mini arcs have characters doing the same thing several times and the tone in some scenes is in question as some moments are played for laughs, while we have murders and monsters a minute later. Also as a villain, Overlord doesn’t really do much for most of the series.


Kamen Rider Agito is a fun and interesting series and has the edge over Kuuga in many ways, including acting, effects, pacing and music. There’s a more layered story, told from mulitple viewpoints. There was less filler than before, which I did appreciate. I dipped my toe in with Kuuga, but dived in with Agito.

Next Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki: Damn I am in fact addicted.


Posted in TV Stuff

5 Sci Fi Series that aren’t ‘Franchises’

I have watched the Star Wars films, am watching them with my son, will no doubt watch them again, but I am one of those people who accepts that they are entertaining, but not particularly well made. I enjoyed many of the episodes of Star Trek and their respective films, but I accept that there’s a lot more about it that’s bad than is good. Babylon-5 is also deeply flawed and Stargate SG-1 is very so so.

Now that all those fandoms are after my head, the reason I say that is that Science Fiction on television is more often than not thought of as those franchises and little else. Between them this counts as over 17 films, half a dozen animated series, a couple of one off specials (read: failed pilots) and at least 10 ongoing TV series and counting. There’s an arguement to say that these four franchises (am including B5 to be generous really) have dominated the market, much to TV’s detriment.

So on the TV side, have not watched a full episode of any of them in months, yet have been watching at least 5 different sci fi series. So I wanted to take a quick look at them, because in the franchise dominated entertainment industry, smaller shows, less budget and less big names can be missed and these gems can be forgotten.

1: Lucifer


I missed the Vertigo boat during the first flush of my comic collecting back in the 90’s. As I looked for different things later on, the vertigo fans put me off the comics. Years passed and I read Preacher and the Neil Gaiman Sandman and others and in the Sandman run was a story where the devil just said “F**k this!” and quit his job and moved to LA to open a piano bar. This series is based on that idea. Tom Ellis plays Lucifer Morningstar, the fallen angel often known as the devil, Satan or others. He’s lived in LA for 5 years with his bar manager an ex-demon called Mazikeen. He gets caught up in a murder investigation headed up by former actress and detached detective Chloe Decker, given the job by her ex husband Dan Espinoza (father to her daughter Trixie) and he’s fascinated by Chloe. Chloe is played by Lauren German who matches Ellis well with some amusing chemistry. Add in a conflicted angel called Amenadiel and a quirky psychotherapist called Linda and this is a hilarious little series found on Amazon Prime. The whole show hangs on the hilarious performance of Tom Ellis as an unrepentant and charming devil who is smart enough to understand tact, but sees no point in it. It’s funny, exciting and while it uses a religious back story, I don’t see any mocking of anyone’s genuine faith. In a very sensitive time, that’s a positive.


2: Hunters


One of a handful of SyFy shows on this list, Hunters uses allegory quite heavily to tell a story about those who battle fanatics, becoming as bad as fanatics.

Really it’s the story of Flynn Carroll, an FBI agent and veteran of war, who still bears the scars of his experiences. His wife disappears, upending his life and the life of the daughter or his dead partner, who he has adopted. His wife was being investigated by the Extraterrestrial Terrorism Unit, a very black ops anti-terrorism unit run by the US government, who recruit Flynn to find a terrorist group made of aliens, hiding in human form. The characterisation is at times slim and there feels like there’s no one to really root for, but it’s tense, well paced and the themes of xenophobia and stressing security over freedom is disturbingly relevant in a post Sept 11 world. The effects are good, but very reminiscent of Aliens, or Predator and the archetypes are easy to see. But this series is interesting and well worth looking at, a nice reminder than when you think you’re the good guy, you’re willing to do almost anything to get what you want. Thing is, no one thinks they are the bad guy, do they?

3: The Expanse


Am only halfway through this, but it’s fascinating. It’s 300 years in the future, Mars is colonised and is a super-power in it’s own right and it’s dealings with Earth are tense at a cold war level. In the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars is more people, very much seen as an underclass by the two worlds. These ‘Belters’ do a lot of the work that keeps these two worlds going, but benefit little from their endeavours. Yes, this series is about class as much as space. On a space station inside this belt, a cop in a very corrupt system is investigating a missing person and it’s heading into strange and dangerous place. Outside of the belt, an ice mining ship investigates a distress call and get caught up in a plot to kick off the war between Mars and Earth that some on both sides want, but both sides know will cause untold loss of life. Like many dramas with a large cast, we get pieces of each plot thread and spoon fed info to keep us interested. I’m back on watching it this weekend.

4: Dark Matter



Another SyFy series, this is an ensemble show set in some undetermined future. Man has colonised much of the galaxy and industry and crime is everywhere. 6 people wake up on a ship, no memories, no idea who they or each-other are on a ship they can barely fly, with an artificial intelligence android that’s also amnesiac and a little ‘perculiar’. They learn that they are criminals, mercenaries and runaways and try to make their way in space, taking what jobs they can, trying to work out who took their memories and what they should do.

There’s more than a little taste of Firefly here, the less than legal mixed with a bit of decency and nobility. These strangers to each other and themselves working together makes this series very much it’s own thing. It’s mostly bottle episodes, adding to the feeling of claustrophobic tension and the writing is decent enough for each character to have his/her own voice. After a cracking first season cliffhanger, the series was renewed and I’m looking forward to watching season 2.

5: Killjoys


When the most famous person in a TV show is the guy who played the second worst Jimmy Olsen on TV, it’s not really inviting. But to be honest, this is my favourite of this 5. It’s not the best, technically or otherwise, but it is one thing that a lot of Sci-Fi TV is missing. It’s fun. Balls out ridiculous fun. Aaron Ashmore plays Johnny Jaqobis, who works for the RAC, which is halfway between marshals and bounty hunters in a planetary system known as  the Quad. He works with/lives with his estranged brother D’avin, a former soldier, suffering PTSD and Dutch, a fighter with an enigmatic past and a temper. They live on a spaceship called Lucy (which does seem to be in love with Johnny) and take warrants for all sorts of criminals and materials. From the plush elite run world of Qureshi, the garden-like Leith, the  abandoned moon of Arkyn and the working class mining colony of Westerley, the team go all over, taking all sorts of jobs and having a lot of wacky adventures.

The action is heavy, the drama well put together and the comedy is sarcastic and at times light hearted. This is fun, it’s the spiritual successor to shows like Farscape with it’s cheeky tone and less than clean cut cast. The first season struggled with it’s tone, but near the end became much more consistent and that consistency has been all over season 2. I would highly recommend this season for fans of action in all it’s forms. This is a fun show and I hope we get more of it.

Ta ta for now internet people.